Texas police arrested a 24-year-old suspect in a tamarin monkey theft case at the Dallas Zoo


Davion Irwin was charged with six counts of animal abuse against animals other than livestock for the theft of two monkeys from the Dallas Zoo on 30 January.

The Dallas Police Department has arrested a suspect in the theft of two imperial tamarin monkeys at the Dallas Zoo.

Davion Irwin, aged 24, was arrested in connection with the case, a Dallas Police Department spokesman confirmed to PEOPLE.

Authorities say a preliminary investigation and public assistance helped identify Irwin as a suspect. Dallas police received a tip Thursday that Irwin had been spotted at the Dallas Aquarium near animal exhibitions, and responding officers saw him boarding a DART train.

Irwin was later spotted in the 1400 block of Pacific Avenue, where police arrested him.

According to Dallas police, Irwin was charged with six counts of animal cruelty and was taken to the Dallas County Jail.

Police officers say the investigation of the missing animals at the Dallas Zoo is ongoing and that more charges are possible.

Two tamarin monkeys, Bella and Finn, went missing on Monday. A preliminary investigation by the Dallas Police Department into the disappearance revealed that a ‘deliberate cut’ had been made in their enclosure at the zoo.

A day later, Texas police said on their Twitter page that the monkeys had been found in an abandoned house in the neighbouring town of Lancaster. The Dallas Zoo said surveillance video helped the Dallas Police Department get a tip-off that led to the discovery of the monkeys.

Dallas Police, with the help of the Lancaster Police Department, located the two missing tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo at an abandoned home in Lancaster.
Pictured is one of the animals still inside the closet of the house.
The monkeys have been returned to the zoo.

— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) February 1, 2023

The zoo told PEOPLE that the facility’s staff was «thrilled beyond belief» that the two emperor tamarin monkeys were found and that they would review the zoo’s security system, as the tamarin monkeys weren’t the only animals to go missing from the zoo recently.

A 4-year-old clouded leopard named Nova went missing from the Dallas Zoo on Jan. 13, prompting the zoo to close for the day. While the rare feline was eventually located near her enclosure, an investigation by the Dallas Police Department on Jan. 16 showed that a cutting tool was used to make an opening in the fencing surrounding Nova’s habitat. The same type of cut was also found in the area housing the zoo’s langurs, a small breed of monkey.

«Although our security program had worked in the past, it has become obvious that we need to make significant changes,» the Dallas Zoo shared in a release sent to PEOPLE. «Words cannot express the frustration our team is feeling. Even with all the additional security measures we have put in place during the past two weeks, our animals and staff continue to be the target of these criminal acts.»

The zoo said it added more cameras, security technology, fencing, security patrols, and overnight staffing to prevent a new security breach.

«We have consulted with security experts and have developed new strategies for securing the 106-acre zoo,» according to the zoo’s press release. «Securing a zoo is a unique challenge that requires specific needs because of the environment; there is often extensive tree canopy, expansive habitats and behind-scenes-areas to monitor, and heavy traffic from guests, contractors, and staff.»

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